The Importance Of Being Earnest Essay

1503 words - 7 pages

It has been said that ‘Comedy, beginning in turmoil but ending in harmony, celebrates life.’ and this is the general idea with ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ Wilde proves that this comedy of manners does conform to this model. As Lady Bracknell tries to prolong the resolution and tries to prevent the marriage between Jack and Gwendolyn, she can be seen as a ‘gorgon’ because she refuses to let Gwendolyn marry Jack. Despite this, She may be seen as a heroine because she is a strong, commanding woman who isn’t passive like traditional Victorian women as she makes decisions which indicates that she has power within the play. Furthermore, Wilde has constructed her in such a way that she dominates the company wherever she is present and judges people according to their wealth even though she is from a non-aristocratic background. Therefore, Lady Bracknell may be viewed as a character that stays ‘bad’. Despite the obstacles surrounding Lady Bracknell, there are some aspects throughout the play which do conform to this model. For instance, Jack faces problems during the play which are then resolved through his actions and are consequently followed by happiness in the resolution when he finds out ‘the vital Importance of Being Earnest’ . Similarly, the same can be said for Algernon who lies to please the women that he desires to achieve happiness in Act 3. Therefore, depending on each character and their actions beforehand, they either face happiness or distress which indicates that comedy does have some elements of movement from distress to happiness and from ‘bad’ to ‘good’.
In ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ Jack is presented as a character that has lied to get what he wants and because of this he has been given faults. Here Jocelyn Powell’s explanation of the drift between ‘comedy of criticism’ and ‘comedy of experience’ is proven as the criticism aimed as Jack is seen from one angle, but as the audience learn more about him through his experience he is constantly modifying the angle from which he is seen. Therefore, this shows that Jack who is a squire is presented as a complex character as he can be seen as a good and bad character since he has virtues and faults embedded within his personality. In Act 1 as he proposes to Gwendolyn and had ‘come up to town expressly’ to do so he is presented as a character that has a good heart, but as he goes along with Gwendolyn thinking that ‘[his] name is Earnest’ and misleads her, he is constructed by Wilde in such a way that he has bad qualities because we as the audience know that he isn’t what he says he is. In addition, as Jack was in love, his emotions caused him to carry out this foolish act of lying since love is often seen as a motivating force in comedies. Even though, he may have some bad qualities, in the resolution, seeing that he apologies to Gwendolyn and asks for forgiveness as he didn’t know that ‘his whole life he has been speaking nothing but the truth’, he is seen as a virtuous...

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